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India: IAEA vote to avert Iran's confrontation with West

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

New Delhi, Sept 26, IRNA
Faced with attack from Left allies and principal opposition party BJP for supporting the IAEA resolution on Iran's nuclear issue under US "pressure," the Indian government Monday set in motion a damage-limitation exercise saying India's decision was based on "very careful consideration" and aimed at averting a "major confrontation" between Tehran and the international community, reports Press Trust of India (PTI).

"We saw the EU-3 (comprising Britain, France and Germany) initiative vis-a-vis Iran as giving a way out for a possible compromise, a reasonable compromise on what is a sensitive issue," Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran told a press conference hours after his return from the US.

Left allies CPI-M and CPI have also accused the government of "surrendering" to the US pressure and going back on its stated stand.

Former external affairs minister and senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha charged that the UPA government had made India a "client state" of the US.

Denying that India acted under US pressure in voting against Iran's nuclear program at the IAEA, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said New Delhi's stand gave more time for diplomacy.

"We took a stand that Iran should be given more time for peaceful resolution of the issue. The issue should not be sent to the Security Council...but to the Board of IAEA," he said on the sidelines of the National Expo of Small Agro and Rural Industries here.

"What we wanted has been taken care of," he added.

Saran explained that the IAEA resolution had addressed two major preoccupations that included no immediate reference of the Iranian nuclear issue to the UN Security Council and giving more time for further discussions and negotiations.

If there had been an immediate reference to the Security Council, Iran had made it clear that it would walk out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, rubbish the IAEA Additional Protocol and perhaps begin enrichment activity, he said.

"By working together with the EU-3, we have been able to head off a major point of confrontation between Iran and the international community," he said.

Initially, the EU-3 and the US as well as some other western countries had been insistent that the matter be immediately sent to the Security Council and resisted efforts by NAM, which pressed for more time for consultations on the ground that a new government has only recently taken charge in Iran.

Saran said efforts by India and some other "friendly" countries helped in making the EU-3, the US and other members concede on those two issues.

On why India did not abstain from the voting like China and Russia, he said, "In terms of diplomacy, having got them to agree to what we wanted and then to say that we will abstain on the resolution would not have been a correct position for us to make."
Seeking to allay apprehensions of a change in stand, the foreign secretary said India had "no reservations" about Iran's right to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

"There is certainly no implication that India has any reservation about Iran's pursuit of a peaceful nuclear energy program consistent with global non-proliferation norms. That is something on which there is no ambiguity," he said.

"We do not believe that the time has come for this matter (Iran's nuclear issue) to be remitted to the Security Council," he said, emphasizing that India did not consider that the current situation constituted any kind of threat to international peace and security.

Saran said India's objective all along has been to be "as helpful as possible with Iran with which we enjoy very close, cordial and friendly relations."
He disagreed that India had voted in favor of the resolution because it had some problems with Iran on other issues.

"That is certainly not the case. This was a judgement made after a very careful assessment of the pros and cons and in pursuit of a policy of avoiding confrontation and having enough time available for us to work out an acceptable compromise," he said.

India, he said, had been playing a role which had been supportive of Iran. Reference of the nuclear issue to the Security Council would have been a major setback to Tehran and India had prevented this from happening.

Pointedly asked whether there was a change in India's stand, he said, "I don't think you should interpret India's position as aligned on the left or the right or aligned with this group of countries or that group of countries. India has all along taken decisions on issues of conern to it on the basis of its own assessment and on the basis of its own national interest. The question of this representing a shift in India's policy does not arise."
He said the resolution reflected a kind of compromise as it was not possible to include each and every viewpoint of all members.


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